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pressure of your hose by mixing in air. This cuts the flow rate to around 2.8 gpm. Check for Leaks. According to the EPA, an irrigation system with a leak just 0.03 inches across – about the thickness of a dime – can waste about 6,300 gallons of water in a single month. If you use a sprinkler system or a drip irrigation system, check it before you set it up in the spring to make sure it hasn’t been damaged by freezing weather. Also, when you hook up your garden hose, check that it isn’t leaking at the point where it connects to the spigot. If you see any drips, try tightening the connection, adding some pipe tape, or replacing the washer in the hose. If you’re setting up a new irrigation system, or if you want to make sure yours is working efficiently, you can use the EPAsite to find a WaterSense-certified irrigation professional in your area. Reduce the Lawn Size. Turf grass is one of the most water-intensive plants you can grow in your yard. By reducing the size of your lawn, you can significantly reduce your outdoor water use – as well as the amount of time you spend mowing. You can cut back the size of your lawn by planting new trees and shrubs, expanding flower beds and vegetable gardens, or adding a patio or garden path. You can also replace some or all of the grass with ground covers, native grasses, or alternative lawn seed mixes containing herbs and wildflowers. The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on ways to reduce the size of your lawn, and an Internet search for “reduce lawn size” turns up many pages devoted to the subject. Mow Correctly. Cutting your grass too short forces it to put all its energy into new growth, rather than into developing deep roots that help it get water and nutrients. It also exposes more of the grass blades to the sun, increasing evaporation. To grow a healthy lawn that requires less water, raise the blade on your lawn mower so that you don’t remove more than one-third of each blade of grass when you cut it. The CUWCC says the ideal grass height is two to three inches for tall fescue, two to two-and-a-half inches for bluegrass, and one inch for warm-season grasses such as Bermuda and zoysia. Cycle Your Sprinklers. According to the CUWCC, most sprinklers apply water faster than the ground can absorb it – particularly if you have heavy clay soil. To make sure the water soaks in fully, it’s better to spread out your watering over two or three short cycles, instead of spraying it all on at once.